Rejected Air New Zealand job applicant happy airline changing tā moko policy, would consider applying again

A Whangārei man who was declined a job at Air New Zealand for having tā moko says he is happy to apply again if a job comes up now their stance has changed.

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Air New Zealand is now allowing workers to display tā moko on the job. Source: 1 NEWS

The airline today announced changes that will see all employees, including uniformed staff, able to display their "non-offensive tattoos" including tā moko at work, from September 1.

It comes after 36-year-old Sydney Heremaia had to disclose his tā moko on his left shoulder, and tatau, a Samoan form of skin art, on his right forearm when applying for a job with Air New Zealand in a customer service role at Whangārei Airport in March this year.

Both were not visible while wearing a corporate shirt.

An Air New Zealand representative then sent him an email that said he was being turned down for the job because "the body art you have declared does not comply with our Uniform Standards for roles wearing the Koru Uniform".

Mr Heremaia told 1 NEWS he is happy that the airline has now changed its position on tā moko.

"I was really pleased with the outcome, Air New Zealand did the right thing.

"This issue has always been bigger than me, this issue is about ensuring the rights and freedom of all indigenous people are embraced," he said.

When asked if he would ever apply for a job with Air New Zealand again, Mr Heremaia gave an answer in the affirmative.

"If an opportunity comes up and I am in a position to apply I most certainly haven't ruled it out."

The changes follow five months of research with Air New Zealand customers and employees.

In a statement Air New Zealand chief executive Christopher Luxon says: "I’m extremely proud to be making this announcement.

"It reinforces our position at the forefront of the airline industry in embracing diversity and enabling employees to express individuality or cultural heritage.

"We felt it was important that this change apply equally to all Air New Zealanders.

"We want to liberate all our staff including uniform wearers such as cabin crew, pilots and airport customer service teams who will, for the first time, be able to have non-offensive tattoos visible when wearing their uniforms."